Wednesday, June 9, 2021

The Colors Of Abruzzo

Here are three distinct colors of Italy's Abruzzo region - white, red, and rosé.

Feudo Antico Tullum Pecorino Biologico 2019

The Feudo Antico winery is located in Abruzzo, an Italian wine region east of Rome.  The region is more known for its red wine, Montepulciano d'Abruzzo than its white or pink bottlings.  Antico was founded in 2004 with its sights set on preserving some indigenous grapes which were falling out of favor - like Pecorino and Passerina.

The 2019 Tullum Pecorino Biologico was made from 100% Pecorino grapes, taken from vineyards on the hillsides around Tollo in Chieti.  The soil in the DOCG Tullum - the smallest wine region of Abruzzo - is slightly calcareous.  A winery rep stated on the virtual tasting event hosted by Gambero Rosso that the land came from the sea, and it is easy to find fossils there.  

The wine was fermented in steel tanks, then aged on the lees - the spent yeast cells - for six months in large concrete tanks.  Winemaker Riccardo Brighina spontaneously fermented the wine and left it unfiltered.  Alcohol checks in at 13.5% abv and the wine sells for, on average, $15.

This Abruzzo white wine is tinted yellow.  It smells of citrus, mostly - Meyer lemon, lime and tangerine.  There is also an earthy aroma like that of apricots.  The apricot note is more noticeable on the palate, with all that citrus coming along for the ride.  The acidity is quite fresh, very refreshing.  The finish is medium and carries apricot and salinity, along with the Meyer lemon.

Tenuta Terraviva Cerasuolo d'Abruzzo Giusi 2019

Tenuta Terraviva lies in the hills of Tortoreto, Teramo province of Abruzzo.  The vineyards are close to the Adriatic Sea, and benefit from that proximity.  Terraviva works primarily with indigenous grape varieties, like Trebbiano, Pecorino, Passerina and Montepulciano.

The Cerasuolo d'Abruzzo DOC is dedicated to the rosato wines which used to be labeled as Montepulciano d'Abruzzo Cerasuolo.  Giusi is made completely from organic Montepulciano d’Abruzzo grapes.  The wine was fermented spontaneously with indigenous yeast, aged six months in steel tanks, then aged three more months in the bottle.  Alcohol is a restrained 12.5% abv and a bottle usually sells for around $12.

This Italian rosato lights up the glass beautifully in a blaze of cherry red.  The nose - the expected cherry, strawberry, cassis notes - has an undercurrent of tar and is draped in a muscular earthiness.  The fruit flavors come along on the palate bright and fresh, with a beautiful acidity.  The grapes, by the way, are Montepulciano with limited skin contact and steel vinification and aging.  

Valle Reale Montepulciano d'Abruzzo Vigneto di Popoli 2015

Valle Reale makes Montepulciano d’Abruzzo wine like no other winery.  Their vineyards are located within one of Italy's most noted and beautiful national parks.  Besides the lovely surroundings, it must be nice to know there is always a park ranger nearby.  The estate is owned by Leonardo Pizzolo, and the winemaker is Emmanuel Merlo.

The rich Vigneto di Popoli wine is made wholly from Montepulciano d’Abruzzo grapes, grown in the pebbly, chalky soil of the oldest estate vineyards.  Fermented in stainless steel, this wine was aged for two years in neutral French oak tonneaux, then six months more in the bottle.  Alcohol slips under the radar at 13.5% abv, while the wine generally sells for about $19.

This wine is medium dark with aromas of black cherry, cassis and blackberry wafting up from the glass.  There is also a bit of leather, tobacco and pencil lead.  The palate offers cherry, licorice and baking spices, along with a nice acidity and medium-firm tannins.  The sip is really enjoyable, but it pairs well with a steak or anything Bolognese. 

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